2011 Content Technology Predictions from Real Story – here’s what I think

Jarrod Gringas has posted his Content Technology Predictions on the Real Story Blog site. It makes for interesting reading. While I applaud Jarrod for making these predictions, I feel that some of them are too early, and won’t be happening in 2011, while a couple of his predictions are, to the best of my knowledge, nothing new.

Here is an overview of Jarrod’s predictions:

1) “Bring Your Own Device” policies will push HTML5 adoption for mobile access to enterprise applications
2) Content-rich customers will rebel against Web CMS marketing spins
3) Microsoft will turn to partners to fix SharePoint shortcomings
4) The top end of the Web CMS market will be redefined
5) Intranet community managers will adopt public social functionality
6) SaaS vendors will try to separate from “The Cloud”
7) Buyers will have a greater acceptance of newer standards
8) Case Management will become the leading application from high-end ECM vendors
9) Digital Asset Management vendors will greatly expand video management capabilities
10) E-mail will remain the world’s de-facto enterprise document repository and workflow system
11) Portal software will increasingly produce services for other portals
12) Specialized talent around managing content will begin to migrate out of large corporations

For the full text, click here to read the original. Once you are finished, you can read my responses below, and see if you agree with me or not.

Jarrod’s prediction that Microsoft will turn to partners to fix SharePoint’s shortcomings is something that I don’t think is a prediction. Especially for 2011. I believe that Microsoft has been doing this for years now. In fact, as I understand it, Microsoft have designed SharePoint (pick your favorite version) so that it meets the requirements of 80% of customers. At the same time, the Microsoft bods have sat down and looked at their partners to determine which ones are capable of, and most likely to, develop a solution for a particular “need”. Then, depending on the success, and demand of the “extra feature” it gets included in the next major version.

Jarrod expands on prediction 4, ‘The top end of the Web CMS market will be redefined“, by stating that the large ECM vendors will move down- and out. I agree that there has been a lot of activity lately with the smaller ECM vendors, but I think that it is too early to predict the “demise” (for want of a better word), of the big ECM companies. The big companies are not stupid, and are aware of the change that is taking place at the moment. They are working away to meet these changes. While the smaller companies are nimble, and will play a increasing role, I don’t predict that the big ECMs will be affected dramatically in 2011.

Intranet community managers will adopt public social functionality” – here Jarrod mentions the adoption of public social media community features, including badges, etc. To be honest, I don’t think that this will take off in a big way. While I do see a certain excitement that such “rewards” bring, I am not too sure that it is ready for the workplace. Is there any real value, in a business sense, in these things? While I do agree that there is a growing need to encourage user adoption of more and more web-based tools, I think that this adoption will be more related to “perceived ease of use” and “perceived usefulness”.

I have mixed feelings with regards Jarrod’s prediction #7 “Buyers will have a greater acceptance of newer standards”. While there is a growing awareness of newer standards, I don’t think that the push for these will come from the user – at least not in the beginning. As with something like CMIS, it needs a vendor to come forward with an application that uses the new standard, and demonstrates real benefits (that can be translated into value for the business). Once this happens, there will be a push from the users resulting in action from other vendors. I’m not sure what Jarrod’s statement that “DoD 5015 and MoReq will become increasingly irrelevant” is based on. I am going to look into this more.

Case Management will become the leading application from high-end ECM vendors – I know that EMC are busy with their new case management platform, xCP (Xcelerated Composition Platform). This looks promising. (In fact, half of the last Momentum user conference was taken up with xCP sessions).

Prediction #10 (E-mail will remain the world’s de-facto enterprise document repository and workflow system) is an interesting one. I think Jarrod might be on the ball here. Indeed e-mail is not going away, and vendors need to do something smart to enable email systems to smoothly integrate with document management and workflow systems. Whether that is going to happen in 2011 is still to be seen.

Prediction #11 (Portal software will increasingly produce services for other portals) makes sense. I’m just not sure whether there will be anything big happening in 2011.

And that leaves us with Prediction #12 (Specialized talent around managing content will begin to migrate out of large corporations). My question is…is this any different than what happens every year? Often once a person has built up enough skills in a particular area, they want to work for the vendor, or an integrator company. And this is good, because they will have built up good “real-world” skills from the “other-side of the fence”. (I have worked on the vendor side, as well as the customer side, and each side has its own challenges, and frustrations). However, coming back to the prediction, what is going to be different this year?

So there you have it. Feel free to discuss if you feel I am off the mark.

I know that Jarrod’s predictions are not the only ones out at the moment, but there seem to only be a handful that deal with Content Management Systems.

Other 2011 Predictions

Top 10 ECM Pet Peeve Predictions for 2011

ECM Noir – Killa Hertz & The Case of the Missing Documents – Part 9

…continued from Part 8 –  [All Episodes]

While Killa and Trudy were waiting for extra memory to be put in the Web Services server, Killa showed Trudy how she could split up the crawl of the documents in the Documentum server into smaller jobs. It had been several weeks since he had heard from her, and Killa planned to make contact again to see how things were going.

It had been a month. I hadn’t heard anything from Trudy, so I gave her a call.
“Killa!” was the first thing I heard after I got put through to her. “I’m really glad you called’ she squeaked over the telephone. “And…” I asked, “how did things go?” “It worked!’ she cried. “After the extra memory was put in, I did as you showed me, and the total number of documents being crawled is almost the same as the number of documents in the Documentum repository!” “Excellent, I’m on my way over to check things out.”

I drove over to the office where Trudy was working. She met me at the door, and led me into where she worked. There was still piles of paper everywhere, and that photo of her dog was still there. Pulling up a spare seat, Trudy logged onto the system. “Look,” she said – “there is 2GB of memory on the Web Services server now”. She showed me the screen, which clearly showed the correct amount of memory.

“Ok, let’s see the crawl log.” Trudy switched to another screen where I could see SharePoint’s crawl log. Looking at the bottom of the screen, I could see that the last full crawl had taken place last week. It looked like it had been successful.

Leaning over Trudy’s shoulder, I grabbed a notepad, and one of the pens in the container on Trudy’s desk. I jotted down the numbers of documents that SharePoint had crawled.

Trudy ctrl-tabbed to a spreadsheet she had open. There was listed the numbers of documents that SharePoint had crawled. And she had listed the counts from running a DQL query to determine the number of each content type in the docbase. Each value was in a different color.

I looked through her numbers. “Looks good kid” I said to her with a smile. “Looks like that problem is fixed”. She swayed back and forth with excitement. “And I’ve confirmed with everyone here. They can all find the documents they are looking for.” she squeaked.

“Good – let me just check it one more time.” I went back to her spreadsheet. Fired up DA, and ran a few more queries. The numbers still looked good. “Well Trudy, there’s not much more to do.” “She looked at me coyly “I guess we should celebrate.”  The look on her face was adorable. Sort of between puppy dog, and baby fur seal. “No need to Trudy. Just doing my job.”

I picked up my hat, swung my jacket over my shoulder, and walked out to the car park. Of all the lawyer firms, in all the cities… Well, it was a good job. I’m glad I could help the dame. I headed in the direction of O’Leary’s.

“Selling” something new to the users – a case of how NOT to do it

selling user adoption

Once upon a time, in a far away land, I was present at a demo that a vendor was giving to the end users of a Document Management System. These are users that had worked with the native client (the end-user application) of the DMS for many years. They knew how to make it sing and dance.

The vendor had worked with this customer for many years, and there was a good relationship. The vendor knew how the customer’s business worked. They knew because they were also the vendor of the Document Management System, and had originally worked with the customer to set up the system to match the customer’s requirements.

So, there we were. In a conference room. A representative of the vendor stood up front . As well as that there were 4 other people from the vendor in the audience – a technical gut, a subject matter expert, some from the vendor’s product development, and a client manager.

We waited in anticipation. The vendor was going to show us new technology that would allow the user to access the Document Management System via SharePoint using a web part. Not only could we access the documents, we would be able to interact with the document, and attach it workflows, etc. And all this via SharePoint. This had great potential. It meant that we could create “work areas” customised to the users’ requirements. And the specialised web parts could be configured to returns documents that meet specific criteria.

One thing I need to point out is that the users were not familiar with SharePoint, and certainly not with the concept of web parts. This was new technology for them.

The vendor’s representative coughed. Everyone went quite. Then the representative (who required no introduction as everyone had worked with him at one stage, or another) explained that the technical guy had created a  working system that he would use to introduce the new technology. He hit  a button on his laptop, and the overhead screen in the room flashed to life.

And what did we see. The vendor had created a SharePoint site, and on it were more than 10 web parts. In two columns. Each showing objects from the Document Management System in various forms (one web part showed an inbox showing workflow tasks, another was a single-box search web part, one had an extended search facility showing, one was for browsing a tree structure of folders, others had specific queries behind them.

The vendor carried on talking about what a web part is, and what each web part did, and, the eyes of the users started glazing over. It was too much for them. This was new technology, and a new way of working. What the vendor showed was too much at the same time. The users were confused. And you could tell by the body language that the users were against what  the vendor was telling them.

During the presentation, the vendor would be describing a specific web part and the functionality that it provided.

Several of the more entrenched users (those who had been doing their job since day one, and were damned good at it) would make comments like “This is not how we do it.”, or “We do things differently here.”

I cringed as the presentation died a quick death. The vendor had not planned properly for this audience. Even the managers in the audience were confused by what was being shown. After the everyone had left I approached the vendor, and got into a discussion with him about what had happened. After much analysis, the following was agreed:

  • The vendor hadn’t realized that the technology was so confusing. He works with it every day, and, for him, it was second nature. He had not looked at it from the perspective of his audience.
  • Too much was presented at the same time. The vendor should have chosen three web parts that provide the base functionality that matched what the users do on a daily basis. Then, once that had been explained, the other web parts could have been introduced.
  • There was no “education” done first. The vendor could have started with a explanation of what the new technology was and how SharePoint and web parts worked.

These are all basic things. New ways of doing things, new technologies need to be introduced gently. The users need to be held by the hand as they are shown. And then step by step. The more the users feel comfortable with something he easier it is to take them to the next step, and the more open they are to making suggestions of their own. This allows them to think innovatively.

But what had the vendor done? Strapped everyone in to their stools and bombarded their senses with new, and different concepts. And at all at the same time.

What was disappointing was that the vendor was no stranger to the customer. As I mentioned above the customer company and the vendor company had worked together for years. The vendor knew what the users did.They knew what the users knew.

The vendor left promising to do a better job next time. That they would definitely take the softly, softly approach. And because they did have a relationship with the customer, that was OK. However, know they had the extra burden of having to re-convince an already resistant audience.

CMIS – what are the adoption plans for 2011?

I’ve been following the CMIS protocol from when it was a “cool idea” till when it became a ratified protocol, and have been seriously wondering what impact it would have on the ECM world (click here for an earlier post).

Recently Generis held a short survey to gauge the feeling of the industry. I’m not sure how scientific the survey was or how many companies were surveyed. And the resulting whitepaper is…I have to say it…ugly. In any case here is a summary of their findings:

  • Most of the companies that responded to the survey use multiple Content Management Systems
  • 26% of the respondents are looking at moving to a common platform, while 52% have no plans, and will keep the systems they have
  • 40% are planning a new system, and 43% are planning system upgrades. Just under 40% are planning content migration. (Note – each respondent may be planning more than one project next year).
  • CMIS doesn’t seem to play a big part in the projects.
  • 87% state that Usability and UI are critical, while 75% consider Richness of Functionality as a High requirement.

[You can read more about the survey here]

What does this all mean? Well, based on Generis’ survey, it seems that CMIS will not be pushed by the users in 2011.

However, other bloggers have also made comments on the future of CMIS in 2011. Laurence Hart predicted at the end of 2009 that 2010 would not be the year of CMIS. In his predictions he quoted Lee Dallas who said “there needs to be application vendor adoption to really create impact.” True! Especially looking at the survey results from Generis.

So will a vendor step up and “force” the others to follow suit? Many vendors have already put into place CMIS functionality (either in the form of a server, or a client). Microsoft introduced in it SharePoint 2007 (administration pack), and it is included as out-of-the-box in SharePoint 2010. Drupal have been busy. As has Alfresco. IBM (FileNet) introduced support for CMIS in V5.0 of the FileNet Content Manager. EMC promises CMIS support in Documentum 6.7.

It seems that each ECM vendor has been quietly toiling away to support CMIS.

But to what end? Is it a case of “Field of Dreams“, where (to paraphrase) “It has to be built before they come”.

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Pie’s blog post: Top Predictions For 2010, and Reflecting on Pie’s 2010 Predictions

Craig Rhinehart’s Post: Top 10 ECM Pet Peeve Predictions for 2011


T minus 4 minutes because it was “stuck in a workflow”

 

This post is part rant, part comment on possible improvements

Yesterday I flew from Amsterdam to Chicago. Knowing that it was a flight into the country of security paranoia and assuming that there would be security checks to the nth degree, I made sure that I arrive two and a half hours early at the airport.

I will also admit that another reason that I arrived at the airport so early, was that the night before I had tried to check-in online, but was unable to find a reservation number on the print-out I had. Assuming that I had, possibly, lost the e-mail, I had decided that I would “sort it out” at the check-in desk.

So there I was, with my passport in hand, and a smile on my face, giving my details to the man behind the counter. He could find me in the system OK, but no ticket number had actually been issued. Which meant that it was not possible for me to get on the plane.

I rang the lady at my work, (Francine – a lovely lady), who looked after this thing. It was Sunday morning and also Sinterklaas (a Dutch festival) so I really appreciated that she had her phone switched on. It transpired that the ticket is booked through American Express Travel. She gave me a phone number that I could ring. Which I did. A recorded message came on stating that this was the American Express Travel Emergency phone line. That was good. What was not good was the fact that I was on hold for 45 minutes before I hung up! (And every 40 seconds hearing “your call is important to us”). Ok – to be fair, the airport at Amsterdam had been closed because of snow for half of Saturday, so there was a backlog of “emergencies”.

Anyway… Francine had also rang, and, fortunately, hadn’t hung up yet. And, at 4 minutes to the closing of the check-in gate, she rang me with the ticket number. 4 minutes! so much for turning up early.

In any case I made the flight.

Francine followed up with American Express Travel. It seems that the ticket had never been issued properly because it was stuck in a workflow.

Now, having an automated workflow in place is a great, great thing. It saves time and it ensures a consistent process. However…a workflow also needs to be monitored. If an item gets “stuck” in a workflow then someone needs to be able to respond to this.  Even something simple as a daily report of “stuck” items is handy. The workflow can be “unblocked”, or the workflow can be restarted. It’s a simple thing.

American Express Travel, please take note.

And, Francine, thanks for your help.

Predicting User Acceptance

I‘ve been asked to help a friend with the design of a portal. Not just any type of portal, but one that will provide an alternative to using the standard “thick client”.

So, I started thinking about what I can do to really “sell” the portal to the users. What will make them WANT to use it, instead of the client that they are already familiar with.

During my studies for the AIIM course (mentioned in earlier posts), I read about the TAM.

The TAM is short for “Technology Acceptance Model“, and is a model that proposes that application usage and adoption can be predicted based upon two factors. Here is what the basic TAM looks like:

TAM User acceptance Technology Acceptance Model Percieved Usefulness Ease

So let’s look at it closer:

Perceived Usefulness can be defined as “the degree of which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance“.

Perceived Ease of Use as “the degree of which a person believes that using a particular system would be free of effort“.

These, together, influence the attitude of a user to a system, which in turn determines behavioral intentions and leads to actual system use.

So – what did I think of this when I first saw it? I thought “Duh!! That’s obvious.”

But then,as I though about it more, I realized that it IS obvious – if a user thinks something is going to make their job easier, AND they think that it will be effortless (not having to learn a new system, etc), then, of course, they are more willing to use it.

Now, the title of this post is “Predicting User Acceptance”. Because this is a model, lots of different values can be matched to each of the parts of the model, so that the outcome gives a mathematical value for the user acceptance.  That’s definitely gives something measurable. There are, in fact, a couple of documented examples where the TAM has been used to predict intranet/portal usage. I want to go into these in a future post.

Till then, the simplicity of the TAM has helped crystallize, for me, the real essence of user acceptance:

  • “Will this make my job/life easier?”
  • “Does it require effort to use?”

Read my following related posts:

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